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This study was conducted to examine whether the nuclear to cytoplasmic (N/C) ratio had any influence on the timing of embryo compaction and blastocoel formation, as well as formation rate and quality of blastocyst. First, we produced embryos with increased N/C ratio by removal of approximately one-third of the cytoplasm and with decreased N/C ratio by doubling the oocyte cytoplasm with an enucleated oocyte. The initiation of compaction and cavitation in reduced cytoplasm group was significantly earlier (P < 0.05) compared with the control and doubled cytoplasm groups. The rate of blastocysts in the reduced cytoplasm and doubled cytoplasm groups was significantly lower (P < 0.05) compared with the control group. Blastocyst quality in terms of total cell number in the reduced cytoplasm group was significantly lower (P < 0.05) compared with the doubled cytoplasm group, but not different from the control group. Next, we produced embryos with various N/C ratios by oocyte fusion combined with cytochalasin D treatment. The onset of compaction and cavitation in the 2N/2C group (decreased N/C ratio) was significantly delayed (P < 0.05) or had the tendency to be delayed (P = 0.064), respectively, compared with the control group (2N/1C). A significantly higher rate of blastocyst was observed in the 4N/2C group compared with the 1N/1C group (P < 0.05) but not different from the remaining groups. These results demonstrated that an increase in N/C ratio caused an earlier occurrence of morula compaction and blastocyst formation in both in vitro fertilization (IVF) and parthenogenetically activated pig embryos.
The effects of Percoll density gradient centrifugation on sperm quality, in vitro fertilizability and developmental capacity of frozen–thawed boar sperm were evaluated. Two-step density gradient centrifugation by Percoll enhanced significantly the motility parameters of sperm compared with a simple centrifugation procedure. Percentages of motile sperm and sperm with intact plasma and acrosome membranes after Percoll separation were significantly greater than those after simple centrifugation. The rates of penetration, cleavage and blastocyst formation after in vitro fertilization were significantly improved by Percoll separation compared with simple centrifugation and were influenced positively by the intactness of sperm head membranes, but not any sperm motility parameters. However, insemination with increased concentrations of sperm prepared by Percoll gradient centrifugation did not improve the success of fertilization and embryo development in vitro. Our results indicate that the integrity of sperm head membranes after Percoll separation is important for successful embryo development in vitro, more so than sperm motility.
Using liquid scintillation counting (LSC) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), radiocarbon concentrations were measured for wine from 8 wineries located in 7 countries in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The 14C concentrations of ethanol and residual materials in the wine were correlated (correlation coefficient 0.82). The δ14C measurements of wine samples from the mid-latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere were approximately 1l% lower than the extrapolations from Schauinsland data, suggesting a local fossil fuel effect. δ14C measurements from the wine samples from the Southern Hemisphere were higher than those from the Northern Hemisphere. The offsets of the 4 wine δ14C measurements were significant, with values between approximately 8% and 15%. Because the harvest years of the mixed grapes were estimated to be 7–12 yr older than their vintage years, this leads to a caveat when determining the 14C concentrations of the year using the wine vintage.
The radiocarbon concentrations in plant leaves from different altitudes at 3 sampling locations were measured with the new compact accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) at Yamagata University to investigate air mixing on a global scale. The sampling locations are Yamagata in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere (NH), Kenya in the equatorial region (EQ), and Chacaltaya in the Southern Hemisphere (SH). The 14C concentrations of the plant leaves ranged from 102 to 105 pMC. The 14C concentrations at high altitudes and mountain summits showed similar values of 104.2 ± 0.28, 104.3 ± 0.36, and 104.4 ± 0.23 pMC at the Yamagata, Kenya, and Chacaltaya sites, respectively. These results indicate that air from the free troposphere is well mixed on a global scale. The local Suess effect was calculated using the 14C concentrations of leaves at the land surface and mountain summits. The fractions were estimated as 1.25 ± 0.3% and 0.87 ± 0.44% at Yamagata and Nairobi, respectively. This estimation method is more advantageous than the conventional calculation. The life cycle of the leaves sampled is 1 or 2 yr, and hence the leaves allow us to study the 14C concentrations in the ambient atmosphere during a narrow and specific time period.
We evaluated the association of nutrient intake with Fe deficiency with regard to lifestyle factors and health condition in young Japanese women. Uniquely among developed countries, dietary habits render Japanese populations vulnerable to Fe deficiency, owing to their relatively low intake of Fe and high intake of Fe absorption inhibitors, such as green tea and soyabeans.
A cross-sectional study.
Setting and subjects
The subjects were 1019 female Japanese dietetic students aged 18–25 years. Dietary habits during the preceding month were assessed using a previously validated, self-administered, diet history questionnaire. Blood analysis was performed to assess body Fe status. Subjects were categorized with Fe deficiency when their serum ferritin levels were <12 ng/ml. Twenty-nine dietary variables, i.e. intakes of energy, sixteen nutrients including Fe and twelve food groups, were analysed using multivariate logistic regression models adjusted for possible confounders.
Of the subjects, 24·5 % were categorized with Fe deficiency. However, no dietary factors assessed were significantly associated with Fe deficiency. The risk of Fe deficiency was significantly lower in women with infrequent or no menstrual cycles than in those with regular cycles (OR = 0·58; 95 % CI 0·34, 1·00) and significantly higher in women with heavy menstrual flow than in women with average flow, albeit that these were self-reported (OR = 1·83; 95 % CI 1·35, 2·48).
These results suggest that dietary habits, including Fe intake, do not significantly correlate with Fe deficiency among young Japanese women.
The possibility of using aged porcine oocytes treated with caffeine, which inhibits the decrease in M-phase promoting factor activity, for pig cloning was evaluated. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were cultured initially for 36h and subsequently with or without 5mM caffeine for 24h (in total for 60h: 60CA+ or 60CA– group, respectively). As a control group, COCs were cultured for 48h without caffeine (48CA–). The pronuclear formation rates at 10h after electrical stimulation in the 60CA+ and 60CA– groups decreased significantly (p<0.05) compared with the 48CA– group. However, the fragmentation rate was significantly higher (p<0.05) in the 60CA– group than in the 60CA+ and 48CA– groups. When the stimulated oocytes were cultured for 6 days, the 60CA+ group showed significantly lower blastocyst formation and higher fragmentation or degeneration rates (p<0.05) than the 48CA– group. However, the number of total cells in blastocysts was not affected by maturation period or caffeine treatment. When somatic cell nuclei were injected into the non-enucleated oocytes and exposed to cytoplasm for a certain duration (1–11h) before the completion of maturation (48 or 60h), the rate of nuclear membrane breakdown after exposure to cytoplasm for 1–2h in the 60CA– oocytes was significantly lower (p;<0.05) than in the other experimental groups. The rate of scattered chromosome formation in the same 60CA– group tended to be lower (p=0.08) than in the other groups. After the enucleation and transfer of nuclei, blastocyst formation rates in the 60CA+ and 60CA– groups were significantly lower (p<0.05) than in the 48CA– group. Blastocyst quality did not differ among all the groups. These results suggest that chromosome decondensation of the transplanted somatic nucleus is affected by both the duration of exposure to cytoplasm and the age of the recipient porcine oocytes, and that caffeine treatment promotes nuclear remodelling but does not prevent the decrease in the developmental ability of cloned embryos caused by oocyte aging.
The activity of exoglycosidases in extracts from freshly ejaculated boar and bull spermatozoa with 0.2% Brij-35/2% acetic acid was measured. The results show that β-N-acetylhexosaminidase, β-galactosidase and α-mannosidase are the major glycosidases; much higher levels of activity were found in boar spermatozoa than in bull spermatozoa. When compared on a per spermatozoon basis, the ratios of the activities of β-N-acetylhexosaminidase, β-galactosidase and α-mannosidase in boar spermatozoon relative to those in bull spermatozoon were approximately 13 000:1, 1700:1 and 400:1, respectively. Liberation of these glycosidases from bull spermatozoa by treatment with phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC) was low, in contrast to liberation of α-mannosidase from boar spermatozoa previously found by the same means. The possibility that the exoglycosidases present in large amounts in boar spermatozoa play a role in the process of binding to the zona pellucida glycoprotein of the egg is discussed.
We investigated effects of invasive adenylate cyclase (iAC), 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX) and dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP) on porcine oocyte in vitro maturation (IVM), in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and subsequent embryonic development. Porcine oocytes were collected in Hepes-buffered NCSU-37 supplemented with or without 0.1 μg/ml iAC and 0.5 mM IBMX. IVM was performed in a modified NCSU-37 supplemented with or without 1 mM dbcAMP for 22 h and then without dbcAMP for an additional 24 h. After IVF, oocytes were cultured in vitro for 6 days. After 12 h of IVM, no difference in nuclear status was observed irrespective of supplementation with these chemicals during collection and IVM. At 22 h, most (95%) of the oocytes cultured with dbcAMP remained at the germinal vesicle (GV) stage, whereas 44.3% of the oocytes cultured without dbcAMP underwent GV breakdown. At 36 h, oocytes cultured with dbcAMP had progressed to prometaphase I or metaphase I (MI) (32.6% and 49.3%, respectively), whereas non-treated oocytes had progressed further to anaphase I, telophase I or metaphase II (MII) (13.6%, 14.3% and 38.0%, respectively). At 46 h, the rate of matured oocytes at MII was higher in oocytes cultured with dbcAMP (81%) than without dbcAMP (57%), while the proportion of oocytes arrested at MI was lower when cultured with dbcAMP (15%) than without dbcAMP (31%). The rate of monospermic fertilisation was higher when oocytes were cultured with dbcAMP (21%) than without dbcAMP (9%), with no difference in total penetration rates (58% and 52%, respectively). The blastocyst rate was higher in oocytes cultured with dbcAMP (32%) than without dbcAMP (19%). These results suggest that a change in intracellular level of cAMP during oocyte collection does not affect maturational and developmental competence of porcine oocytes and that synchronisation of meiotic maturation using dbcAMP enhances the meiotic potential of oocytes by promoting the MI to MII transition and results in high developmental competence by monospermic fertilisation.
Lipid content in mammalian oocytes or embryos differs among species, with bovine and porcine oocytes and embryos showing large cytoplasmic droplets. These droplets are considered to play important roles in energy metabolism during oocyte maturation, fertilisation and early embryonic development, and also in the freezing ability of oocytes or embryos; however, their detailed distribution or function is not well understood. In the present study, changes in the distribution and morphology of porcine lipid droplets during in vivo and in vitro fertilisation, in contrast to parthenogenetic oocyte activation, as well as during their development to blastocyst stage, were evaluated by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The analysis of semi-thin and ultra-thin sections by TEM showed conspicuous, large, electron-dense lipid droplets, sometimes associated with mitochondrial aggregates in the oocytes, irrespective of whether the oocytes had been matured in vivo or in vitro. Immediately after sperm penetration, the electron density of the lipid droplets was lost in both the in vivo and in vitro oocytes, the reduction being most evident in the oocytes developed in vitro. Density was restored in the pronculear oocytes, fully in the in vivo specimens but only partially in the in vitro ones. The number and size of the droplets seemed, however, to have decreased. At 2- to 4-cell and blastocyst stages, the features of the lipid droplets were almost the same as those of pronuclear oocytes, showing a homogeneous or saturated density in the in vivo embryos but a marbled or partially saturated appearance in the in vitro embryos. In vitro matured oocytes undergoing parthenogenesis had lipid droplets that resembled those of fertilised oocytes until the pronuclear stage. Overall, results indicate variations in both the morphology and amount of cytoplasmic lipid droplets during porcine oocyte maturation, fertilisation and early embryo development as well as differences between in vivo and in vitro development, suggesting both different energy status during preimplantation development in pigs and substantial differences between in vitro and in vivo development.
Culturing of matured porcine oocytes in vitro results in the enhancement of their cytoplasmic ability for oocyte activation (so-called ageing), although they are arrested at metaphase II. The enhanced ability for oocyte activation is related to decreased activity of the maturation promoting factor (MPF). In the present study we clarified the molecular mechanism of MPF inactivation during ageing, especially the changes in the phosphorylation status of p34cdc2, a catalytic subunit of MPF, compared with that in fertilised oocytes. The MPF activity decreased gradually when maturation culture was prolonged from 36 to 72 h, confirming the decreasing MPF activity in aged oocytes. The activity of 48 h matured oocytes also decreased after in vitro fertilisation. Immunoblotting of p34cdc2 with anti-PSTAIRE antibody revealed that the culturing of matured oocytes induces a gradual increase in pre-MPF, which is a p34cdc2 and cyclin B complex inactivated by phosphorylation at the inhibitory phosphorylation site of p34cdc2. In contrast, pre-MPF decreased after fertilisation, indicating the degradation of cyclin B. These results suggest that the molecular mechanisms of inactivation of MPF are different between oocyte activation and ageing, and that the mechanism during ageing might be based on the inhibitory phosphorylation of p34cdc2, whereas that of oocyte activation is based on the degradation of cyclin B.
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